Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The wonder of it all

We are situated in the Milky Way, a galaxy of at least 100 billion stars and 100 billion planets. The nearest star is so far away that it takes its light four years to get here. Some stars you can see with the naked eye are so far away that it takes 4,000 years for their light to reach us.

The Milky Way is so big that it would take light, travelling at 186,000 miles a second, 100,000 years to get from one end to the other. 

Beyond the Milky Way are at least 170 billion other galaxies. Some of them we only became aware of after the Hubble telescope was launched in 1990. Before that, they had functioned for thousands of years without mankind even being aware of their existence. When the Webb telescope is launched in 2018, scientists expect to be able to see even further into God's creation. 

We are just a few of seven billion individuals living on a tiny planet in the middle. Yet God sent His Son to die in agony so that I might be forgiven, because He loved me and wanted to have fellowship with me.

I find it a little bit difficult to know how best to describe MIchael Wenham. I suppose the best thing to say is that he is a former vicar. He is still an ordained Anglican minister, but he suffers from a variety of motor neurone disease and spends most of his time now in a wheelchair. You may have seen him campaigning against assisted suicide.

Michael tells a story about Lee Bramlett and his wife Tammi. The couple work for Wycliffe Bible Translators, whose job it is to translate the Bible into languages that do not have the Scriptures.

They were working in West Africa, translating the Scriptures into Hdi with the help of a few native-born community leaders. They knew that verbs in that language end in "i," "a" or "u," but that the verb to love ends only in "i" and "a."

"Could you dvi your wife?" Lee asked. Yes, they said. That would mean that the wife had been loved, but the love had gone.

"Could you dva your wife?" Yes, they said. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.

"Could you dvu your wife?" They all laughed. Of course not, they said. If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water or never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to keep on loving her. "You would never say dvu. It just doesn't exist."

Lee sat quietly for a while, then asked "Could God dvu people?" 

There was complete silence for three or four minutes. Then tears began to trickle down the faces of these elderly men.

"Do you know what this would mean?" they said."This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all the time we rejected His great love. He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people."

God, says Michael, loves you with a "u."

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